Gettysburg National Military Park

The small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, was the site of what is still the largest battle ever fought in the Western Hemisphere. While the battlefield is unfortunately marred on some sides by encroaching development, more than enough is preserved for a visitor to understand the terrain and the geography of the battle. The Visitor Center has fine exhibits and a good bookstore.  Catch the electronic map presentation on the battle to orient yourself before touring the site. (The map is very low tech by current standards, but was something of a marvel to this kid in the ’60s.  It’s still surprisingly effective as an instructional device.)  By all means take the well-marked auto tour, and use the towers to get the perspective that the combatants could not have had.  But try to get off the roads, traipse the fields that Pickett crossed, climb the side of Little Round Top, and walk along the remains of the trenches on Culp’s Hill.  There are excellent guides who will drive, bike, or hike the battlefields with you.  For a special treat, take one of several riding tours offered by private guides to get a general’s eye view of the battlefield.  Also take a walk across the road from the Visitor Center to the Gettysburg National Cemetery and the site of Lincoln’s Gettysburg address in the Evergreen Cemetery beyond (ask the park rangers for the location).

 

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